The Kanchenjunga base camp trek is an epic adventure at the foot of the third highest mountain through Nepal’s scenic Kanchenjunga conservation park. Those who have set foot in this fantastic journey have realized this journey is a search for inspiration, answers, and truth. It is an attempt to touch the heights so sublime that they exclude the very fact of human life next to them. The trip begins with a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur in eastern Nepal. From here, you drive via serpentine roads to the starting point of the trekking tour to Taplejung.
The hike starts through lush rice terraces, colorful villages through dense mountain rain forests. You will slowly gain altitude over the days. The air gets thinner and clearer the closer you get to the majestic ice giants. The path leads past Mani walls and over suspension bridges. Shaggy yaks with their bells around their necks are constant companions. The landscape becomes more and more grandiose; the mighty icebergs appear everywhere. Through the Ghunsa valley with Khambachen and Lhonak camp, you take a trip to Pang Pema (Kanchenjunga North Base Camp), located at an altitude of 5143m.
Through the trail of Ghunsa and the detour over three high passes, you get to the south base camp of the Kanchenjunga, which again allows you to marvel at the fascinating jungle and mystic beauty of the giant Himalayas. Then a journey back to the starting point, saying goodbye to the honest, modest Nepalese people and mighty glaciers.
The trek to Kanchenjunga Base camp Trek is affordable for all adventure-seeking trekkers. The total cost for the journey depends on the number of days you are planning to stay in the city, number of days you are planning to spare for the trek, you accommodation, number of people on the trek, mode of transportation( Air or road) and the national or international agency you have arranged your trek with. You will also have to pay charges for the permits.
However, the trek can cost you around 3000 US dollars on average. Here is the cost detail:
You will need a valid Nepalese visa issued upon arrival at the airport. Therefore, it is unnecessary to apply for it in advance and go to the Nepalese embassies and consulates in your country.
15 days Visa: $30
30 days Visa: $50
90 days Visa: $125
All visa payments are made exclusively in cash in US dollars, so it is worth preparing the exact amount in advance to avoid unnecessary delay or misunderstanding.
For trekking in the territory of the Kanchenjunga region, you must have the following documents.
Registration card (Restricted Area Permit) that cost you 10$ per person per week
Permission to stay in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Permit that costs you 20$ per person.
These documents can be issued in the Nepal Ministry of Tourism or Kathmandu Tourist Offices.
It is worth paying attention to an important fact: the passage of this reserve is possible only as part of an organized group of tourists and accompanied by a local guide (it is on such conditions that permits are issued).
It will take you two hours to obtain the permit.
Due to unpredictable weather conditions and remoteness, you can face any trouble, from losing your documents to feeling sick. So it is wise if you take travel insurance to take home the memories of the picturesque region freely.
It will cost you around 150-200 US Dollars for a 30 days time period.
It is advisable to be guided by an English-speaking local travel guide certified by the government of Nepal, or you can also take a guide from a registered travel company. The support of a tour guide makes a significant contribution to the trip’s success.
Visiting Kanchenjunga is an opportunity to see not only the eternal ice and celestial masses but also native people and their culture. It is the opportunity to challenge yourself and challenge the highest.
The route is also interesting, mainly for those who like to try themselves in the world of mountaineering and heights. So, of course, you don’t want to spend time and concentrate on carrying your loads.
It is better that you hire a porter who will carry 20 kg of weight, and he will cost you around 20-25 US Dollars per day inclusive of food, accommodation, and insurance.
Your journey will start with a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur that will cost you 200-300 US Dollars.
From Bhadrapur, you can then travel to Ilam or directly to Taplejung via a local bus that can cost you around 10 US Dollars.
If you decide to stay overnight in Ilam, it will cost you anywhere between 20-25 US Dollars.
After a night in Ilam, you can then travel from Ilam to Taplejung via local bus, or for a faster and more comfortable journey, you can hire a private jeep that can cost you around 300 US Dollars.
The accommodation in cities like Kathmandu and Ilam can be luxurious, based on the choice that can cost you between 20-25 US Dollars.
However, as you ascend height, you must comply with what is available. You can find a tea house in Jaubari and one on the way to Ghunsa village.
They offer basic services. The rooms are very simply furnished, without heating, and covered with plywood. There are mostly wooden beds with a foam mat on top, clean sheets, and mostly a pillow.
Most of the rooms have 2 beds and offer enough space for 2 people with luggage. So take advantage of the available facility even if you have to share rooms with other guests.
There are not many lodges or tea houses as you gain altitude, so you may have to camp on your own or with the help of your porter. Hot showers may be available if the tea house you’re staying in has a good supply of wood. So they will charge you with an additional fee of 2-6 US Dollars.
The tea house can charge you anywhere between 5-10 US Dollars for a twin sharing room.
Some tea houses also offer wifi services at an additional cost of 2 to 5 US Dollars. If you want to save some expense, purchase NCELL or NTC SIM and buy an internet package as per your suitability.
Battery charging, mobile charging, power bank charging also cost you an additional fee of 5 to 10 US Dollars.
In Kathmandu and Ilam, you can order any cuisine you prefer, from local Nepali to continental, costing approximately 20-30 US Dollars.
As you ascend on the trek, the choice of a meal may be limited to local delicacies and meals such as Dal Vat Tarkari (Rice, Lentil and Vegetable), for which you have to pay around 5 US Dollars.
If you suddenly desire a cup of coffee or tea amid the cool climate of the Himalayas, you have to pay around 2-4 US Dollars for coffee and 1 to 2 US Dollars for a cup of tea.
A bottle of water can cost you 1 to 4 US Dollars and beer around 2-5 US Dollars.
Local people like Rai, Limbu, and Sherpa like to drink Tongba, a traditional drink made from millet. You can have a taste of this local beverage at around 2-5 US Dollars.
A wide range of climatic conditions awaits you on the trek to Kanchenjunga. They range from the subtropical climate (warm, high humidity) on the approach to high mountain conditions in the base camp area. At night it can cool down to below zero at altitudes above 3500 m; snowfall is generally possible at these altitudes.
A daypack with rain gear, warm clothing, thermos bottle, etc., is sufficient for trekking. Essential equipment is stable, ankle-high, waterproof trekking shoes, gaiters, a sleeping bag with a comfort range down to minus 10 degrees, and trekking poles for walking at higher altitudes.
You can rent this equipment apart from your clothing and personal usage toiletries in Kathmandu that can cost you around 200 to 500 US Dollars.
This cost totally depends on your preference, although there are not many choices left as you ascend the height.
However, you may want to take some souvenirs home, and you can do some shopping in Kathmandu and Ilam.
So spare 100 to 200 US Dollars for your extra expenses.
Perhaps the best time to visit the Kanchenjunga base camp is the autumn season, from mid-September to early November. The monsoon season subsides, and quite warm weather sets in the Himalayas.
With the monsoon season in early June, trekking in the Himalayas comes to a halt as rainfall and intensity increase exponentially. You will be wet to the skin; the dirt roads will turn into impenetrable water and mud barriers.
There is a period of active snowmelt from March to May. Although there are often thunderstorms during this period, in the morning, the sky is always clear and cloudless, which makes it possible for travelers to enjoy the view of the beautiful mountain peaks fully.
With the advent of the winter season from January to early March, most tourists leave the highlands, where snow is already beginning to fall. Most of the passes become difficult to pass – this period, like the summer one, is unfavorable for trekking.
The Kanchenjunga base camp trek is moderately difficult as similar as Everest Base Camp Trek These are demanding trekking trips with daily stages of up to 8 hours in length and a maximum of around 1,400 meters in altitude. The focus of these trips is trekking, which requires physical and mental strength.
Some of the stages are long, steep, and lead through rough terrain. Sure footedness is absolutely necessary. In addition, team spirit, camaraderie, and sacrifice of comfort contribute to the success of the trek.
In preparation, more intensive training at least 2-3 times a week can definitely be an added advantage.
Climbing the mountains, the height increases, and with this, the air becomes thinner, making it difficult to breathe. The oxygen amount decreases at very high altitudes. A person who suffers from any respiratory disease such as asthma should think a million times before choosing the path to Kanchenjunga Base Camp.
However, the trek can be made easy and pleasant with a good mindset, strong physical fitness, planned itineraries, and enough rest.
Kanchenjunga is rich in its ecosystem with the presence of diverse flora and fauna. Experts have found twenty-three unique species of rhododendrons in this area. Dense forests grow in these hidden valleys, where more than 158 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles, over 800 flowering plants, and over 30 species of mammals are found. As you ascend the height, you will be accompanied by yak, blue sheep, and find yourself in the deciduous forest of maple, britches, oaks, and laurels. Some rare species like snow leopard, red panda, Ghoral, and serow are also found here.
The charm of Kanchenjunga lies in the isolation of the region, still little touched by tourism, with villages and populations still firm in their rhythms and habits of life, elsewhere now disappeared. The main ethnic groups inhabiting the Kanchenjunga region are the Limbu, Gurung, Magar, Thakali, Brahmin, and Rai. As the altitude gains, mostly Sherpa people occupy the region.
The primary occupation of these people is agriculture, forestry and trekking, and tourism. People mainly rely on Yak for milk, meat, shed, and clothes. Despite the strenuous life, people here distance themselves from modernity, delighting in traditional ways of life.
Trek to Kanchenjunga base camp is not that difficult, as explained above. All you need is a strong will, desire to be flexible, adjust and adapt, and physical well-being. The risk associated with the trek is Altitude sickness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), for which you need to be prepared.
Avoiding too high and too fast climb periodic acclimatization, drinking lots of water, light meals, avoiding alcohol, and smoking can help you avoid AMS.
If you feel shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting: all these can be signs of AMS, so simple medicine such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help.
In severe conditions, you can discontinue your trek anytime. Apart from the condition, trekking in Kanchenjunga base camp is relatively easy, so moderate training to walk and climb in early preparation can help the beginner go on the trek.
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